Introduction: Can you remember a time when you said to yourself, “I
just want to have some fun?” If so, how did you go about finding fun?
If you did not have fun, do you think being the richest fellow around
would make having fun a little easier? What if you could have
everything you desired? This week we follow King Solomon’s thoughts
as he describes what he did to have fun, and how it all turned out.
Let’s jump right into our study!

  1. Laughter

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 2:1. Is Solomon saying that he decided
      that he would figure out how to have fun? (He says that he
      will “test” his heart with pleasure to see if it is good.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 2:2. What does Solomon try first to have
      some fun? (Laughter.)

      1. Is laughter something that you decide to do? Is it a
        planned activity, or is it the result of having fun?

      2. Do you agree with Solomon that laughter is foolish
        and accomplishes nothing?

    3. Let’s look at some other texts in the Bible. Read Proverbs
      17:22. Do you find that laughter makes your heart

      1. Read and compare Proverbs 14:13. What principle do
        you find in comparing these two texts? (Laughter is
        an external that might not change the underlying
        condition of the heart. Your heart can still keep
        aching even if you laugh.)

      2. Read Ecclesiastes 7:3. In what way can a sad face be
        good for the heart?

        1. Or, is this text the direct opposite of Proverbs

          1. If so, which one seems more correct? (Read
            Ecclesiastes 7:4. This adds more context
            to Solomon’s statement about a sad face
            being “good for the heart.” When you are
            sad, you are serious. You consider life
            more carefully. In that way a sad face can
            be good for the heart.)

      3. Read Ecclesiastes 7:6. What does this mean? Is
        Solomon saying laughter is good or bad in this text?

        1. How many of you know how to start a fire?

          1. Have you ever tried to start a fire with

            1. Imagine starting a fire with dried
              thorns. How long would such a fire
              last? (I think Solomon is saying that
              if you start your fire with light
              brush, it will burn, flare, and then
              burn out. Nothing in your pot will
              get cooked.)

            2. So, what is his point about laughter?
              (That it is just a quick, temporary,
              insubstantial relief from the
              problems in your life.)

      1. Read Luke 12:19-20. Are we foolish in God’s eyes if
        we are merry (in a mood to laugh)? (Read Luke 12:15.
        Jesus’ says the point of life is not what we own. The
        related truth is that the point of life is not just
        laughing and being merry.)

      2. Read James 4:7-10. “Celebration” churches are
        controversial in some corners. I once read an article
        that said we should come to church to be sober about
        our sins and not to celebrate. I did not like that
        article very well, but is it supported by James?

      3. Read Ecclesiastes 8:15. Has Solomon changed his mind?
        James 4:8 speaks about the “double-minded,” is that
        Solomon with statements about laughter and gladness?

    1. What would you say is the overall teaching of the Bible on
      laughter and being merry? (My daughter was commenting on
      some young people she knew who were working in dead-end
      jobs instead of going to school. Every weekend they would
      party. The “goal” of their lives seemed to be the weekend
      party. I think this is what Solomon and James are writing
      about. True joy comes from getting your heart and your
      life right. Once you have a right relationship with God,
      then you can have joy and laughter without the underlying
      heart ache. Laughter is no substitute for repentance.
      Then, when you come to church you had better celebrate
      what God has done to save you from your sins!)

  1. Wine and Folly

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 2:3. What does Solomon try next to have
      fun? (Cheering himself with wine and embracing folly.)

    2. When he says that his mind was still being guided by
      wisdom, what do you think he means?

      1. Is he saying that he is not being foolish with his
        wine and his folly?

    3. Can you cheer yourself with wine and folly? (Solomon is
      making the same point here as he was with laughter. These
      are meaningless externals which cannot change the heart.
      The weekend party crowd ultimately realize that getting
      drunk and having fun for the moment is no substitute for a
      life built on a Biblical foundation.)

  2. Building and Planting

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 2:4. How do you feel about building

      1. Does that give you pleasure?

      1. How about planting, do you enjoy planting?

        1. If so, why?

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 2:5-6. What does this involve, in
      addition to planting and building?(Planning.)

        1. Would you enjoy doing this?

    2. Solomon could not find meaning in laughter, wine or folly.
      Should he be able to find meaning in building, planting
      and planning?

      1. Remember my example of the young people who live for
        the weekend party? What if they lived to have
        productive jobs? Lived to go to school and get good

    3. Let’s skip ahead. Read Ecclesiastes 2:17-18. Do you
      agree that this is a problem with planting and building?

    4. Read Ecclesiastes 2:19-21. When we think of leaving our
      work to others, we (I assume) generally think of how they
      will enjoy our work. What does Solomon think about those
      who will “enjoy” his work?

    5. What do you think, is building, planning and planting on
      the same level of meaninglessness as partying? (Read Luke
      12:29-34. Jesus tells us that eating, drinking, working,
      possessions are all temporary. Our focus in life should be
      the kingdom of God – if we make the kingdom our focus,
      then our treasure will be stored up in heaven – where it
      will be eternal.)

  1. Wisdom

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 2:12-13. Is wisdom an advantage in life?

      1. If so, why? (Solomon says it is like being able to
        “see” your way in life. The wise can avoid the
        pitfalls of life.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 2:14-15. What is Solomon’s argument that
      wisdom gives you no advantage in the end? (Solomon says
      both the wise and the fool die. So, what is the advantage
      of being wise?)

      1. How would you answer Solomon’s argument? (He is
        focused on the future, not the present. Avoiding
        falling in a pit makes my life better now.)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 2:24-26. After Solomon’s argument about
      pleasure, planting, building, and wisdom, what conclusion
      does he reach? (God gives us the gift of eating, drinking
      and working – and we should enjoy those gifts while we

    4. Friend, is Solomon’s conclusion sufficient for you? You
      may agree with what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 2:24-26,
      but the Bible teaches that we can do better. Do you want
      to create eternal possessions? Do you want to have genuine
      joy and laughter? Then turn your focus away from
      everything “under heaven” – which was the focus of Solomon
      for much of his life – and turn your focus to promoting
      heaven. Then you get these gifts, and you get them

  1. Next week: Of Being and Time.